Summary of Day 15: Friday 17th January – Assembly approves New Constitutional Commissions to Strengthen Democratic Governance

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The plenary commenced at 11am on Friday 17th January with continuation of the discussions around the powers of the Constitutional Court. The remaining articles 118 to 121 on the procedures for examination of the constitutionality of laws saw few disagreements and were adopted without amendments. A new article, proposed by Faycal Jadlaoui (Ettakattol Party) was inserted to highlight the contribution of the legal profession to justice and to protect the independence and rights of the sector.

The plenary also made progress on Chapter Six which establishes a number of independent constitutional commissions to monitor and oversee various sectors seen to be fundamental to the strengthening of democracy – namely, the Election Commission, the Audio-Visual Communications Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Sustainable Development and Rights of Future Generations and the Commission on Good Governance and Fight Against Corruption.

Statistics for Day 15

11: number of articles adopted

166: average number of yes votes per article

7: average number of no votes per article

Article 118

Draft: “Decisions in the Constitutional Court shall be taken by a majority. In the event of a split vote, the President of the Court shall have a casting vote. Decisions issued by the Constitutional Court shall set out their reasoning, shall be binding upon all authorities and shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Tunisian Republic.”

Unamended article 118 adopted with 112 for, 17 abstentions, 38 against.

Article 119

Draft: “Any draft law that violates the Constitution shall be referred to the President of the Republic and from the President of the Republic to the Chamber of Deputies to be considered a second time and amended in accordance with the decision issued by the Constitutional Court. The President of the Republic shall, prior to the law’s ratification, return the law to the Constitutional Court to consider its constitutionality within one month.”

Unamended article 119 adopted with 162 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.

Article 120

Draft: “When the Constitutional Court examines a claim of the unconstitutionality of a law, the Court shall be limited to examining the issues that have been put before it. It shall render its decision within three months, which can be renewed only once and by virtue of a decision setting out its reasoning.

If the Constitutional Court determines that the law is unconstitutional, the law shall, within the limits specified by the Court, no longer be applied.”

Unamended article 120 adopted with 162 for, 3 abstentions, 0 against.

Article 121

Draft: “A law shall govern the organisation of the Constitutional Court and the procedures it shall follow as well as the guarantees enjoyed by its members.”

Unamended article 121 adopted with 177 for, 2 abstentions, 1 against.

Proposal to add a new article

Draft: “The legal profession is a free, independent profession that contributes to the establishment of justice and the defense of rights and liberties. Lawyers enjoy the legal guarantees that protect them and enable them to fulfil their functions.”

Article adopted with 158 for, 17 abstentions, 8 against.

Vote on title: “Chapter Six: Independent Constitutional Commissions” – adopted with 150 for, 1 abstention, 0 against.

Article 122

Draft: “The independent constitutional commissions shall work to support democracy.

These commissions shall enjoy legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. They shall be elected by the Chamber of Deputies, submit an annual report to it, and shall be accountable before it. All institutions of the state must facilitate their work.

The composition of these commissions as well as their regulations and mechanisms for holding them accountable shall be governed by law.”

Proposed amendment to amend the first paragraph to: “The independent constitutional commissions shall work to support democracy and all institutions of the state must facilitate their work” and to amend the third paragraph to “These commissions shall enjoy legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. These commissions shall be elected by the Chamber of Deputies. They shall be held accountable before the Chamber and submit an annual report to it, with the report of each commission being discussed in a special plenary of the Chamber” passed with 121 for, 6 abstentions and 47 against.

Consensual amendment to amend article as follows: “The independent constitutional commissions shall work to support democracy and all institutions of the state must facilitate their work.

These commissions shall enjoy legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. These commissions shall be elected by the Chamber of Deputies by qualified majority, and shall submit an annual report to it, with the report of each commission being discussed in a special plenary of the Chamber.

The composition of these commissions as well as representation within them and the method of their election, their regulations and ways of holding them accountable shall be governed by law.” Consensual amendment adopted with 177 for, 4 abstentions and 1 against.

Amended version of article 122 adopted with 178 for, 5 abstentions, 1 against.

Final text of article as adopted: “The independent constitutional commissions shall work to support democracy and all institutions of the state must facilitate their work.

These commissions shall enjoy legal personality as well as financial and administrative independence. These commissions shall be elected by the Chamber of Deputies by qualified majority, and shall submit an annual report to it, with the report of each commission being discussed in a special plenary of the Chamber.

The composition of these commissions as well as representation within them and the method of their election, their regulations and ways of holding them accountable shall be governed by law.”

Vote on the title: “Section One: Elections Commission” adopted with 171 for, 4 abstentions and 2 against.

Article 123

Draft: “The Elections Commission shall be entrusted with the management and organization of elections and referenda, and overseeing all their stages. The Commission shall ensure the soundness, integrity, and transparency of the election process, and declare the results.

The Commission has regulatory power in the areas that are within its mandate.

The Commission shall be composed of nine independent, impartial members possessing competence and integrity, who undertake their work for one six-year term. One third of its members shall be replaced every two years.”

Proposed amendment to remove “nine” from the third paragraph rejected with 65 for, 32 abstentions and 80 against.

Unamended article 123 adopted with 173 for, 4 abstentions and 3 against.

Vote on the title: “Section Two: Media Commission”.

Consensual amendment to amend title to “Audiovisual Communications Commission” passed with 160 for, 13 abstentions and 14 against.

Amended title “Audio-Visual Communications Commission adopted with 162 for, 9 abstentions and 6 against.

Article 124

Draft: “The Media Commission shall be entrusted with overseeing the amendment and development of the media sector and seek to guarantee freedoms of expression and of the media and the right to access to information and the existence of pluralistic and fair media.

The Commission shall be consulted on draft laws that are related to its mandate.

The Commission shall be composed of nine independent, impartial members possessing competence and integrity who undertake their work for one six-year term. One third of its members shall be replaced every two years.”

Consensual amendment to amend the first paragraph to “The Audio-Visual Communications Commission shall be entrusted with overseeing the amendment and development of the audio-visual communication sector…” passed with 163 for, 12 abstentions and 2 against.

Consensual amendment to amend the article to the following: “The Audio-Visual Communication Commission shall be entrusted with overseeing the amendment and development of the audio-visual communication sector and seek to guarantee freedoms of expression and of the media and the right to access to information and the existence of pluralistic and fair media.

The Commission shall have regulatory power in matters related to its mandate and must be duly consulted on relevant draft laws.

The Commission shall be composed of nine independent, impartial members possessing competence and integrity who undertake their work for one six-year period. One third of its members are replaced every two years.”

Amended article 124 adopted with 187 for, 3 abstentions and 1 against.

“The Audio-Visual Communication Commission shall be entrusted with overseeing the amendment and development of the audio-visual communication sector and seek to guarantee freedoms of expression and of the media and the existence of pluralistic and fair media.

The Commission shall have regulatory power in matters related to its mandate and must be duly consulted on relevant draft laws.

The Commission shall be composed of nine independent, impartial members possessing competence and integrity who undertake their work for one six-year period. One third of its members are replaced every two years.”

Vote on the title: “Section Three: Human Rights Commission” adopted with 188 for, 1 abstention and 0 against.

Article 125

Draft: “The Human Rights Commission shall monitor respect for, and work to strengthen, human rights and freedoms. The Commission shall propose reforms to develop the human rights framework and shall be consulted on draft laws that are related to its mandate.

The Commission shall conduct investigations into violations of human rights with a view to settlement or referral to the competent authorities.

The Commission shall be composed of independent and impartial members possessing competence and integrity. They undertake their functions for one six-year term.”

Unamended article 125 adopted with 182 for, 2 abstentions and 0 against.

Vote on the title: “Section Four: Commission for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations” adopted with 176 for, 5 abstentions and 1 against.

Proposed amendment to amend title to “Commission for Sustainable Development and Solidarity between Generations” rejected with 40 for, 30 abstentions and 115 against.

Article 126

Draft: “The Commission for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations shall be consulted on draft laws related to economic, social and environmental issues and on development plans. The Commission shall have the right to give its opinion on issues related to its mandate.

The Commission shall be composed of members possessing competence and integrity. They undertake their functions for one six-year term.”

Proposed amendment to amend the first paragraph to: “The Commission for Sustainable Development and the Rights of Future Generations shall examine state policies in the economic, social and environmental fields in order to achieve sustainable development that guarantees the rights of future generations. It shall promote scientific research and research institutions. The Commission shall be consulted on draft laws related to its mandate, and in the event of refusal by executive authorities to incorporate its advice, reasons for such decision shall be published in the Official Gazette” rejected with 68 for, 23 abstentions and 97 against.

Unamended article 127 adopted with 149 for, 11 abstentions and 23 against.

Vote on the title: “Section Five: Commission for Good Governance and the Fight Against Corruption” adopted with 180 for, 2 abstentions and 2 against.

Article 127

Draft: “The Commission for Good Governance and the Fight Against Corruption shall contribute to policies of good governance, preventing and fighting corruption and monitoring their implementation and dissemination of their culture, and strengthens the principles of transparency, integrity and accountability.

The Commission shall be in charge of monitoring cases of corruption within the public and private sectors, investigating them, and submitting them to the competent authorities.
The Commission shall be consulted on draft laws related to its mandate.
The Commission shall have the right to give its opinion on general regulatory texts related to its mandate.
The Commission shall be composed of independent impartial members possessing competence and integrity, who undertake their functions for one six-year term. One third of its members shall be renewed every two years.”

Proposed amendment to amend the second paragraph thus: “The Commission shall be in charge of monitoring cases of corruption within the public and private sectors, scrutinizing, investigating and confirming them, and submitting them to the competent authorities…” passed with 134 for, 24 abstentions and 21 against.

Proposed amendment to amend the second paragraphs thus: “The Commission shall be consulted on draft laws and regulations related to its specialization and can give its opinion on general regulatory texts related to its mandate…” rejected with 50 for, 27 abstentions and 115 against.

Amended article 127 adopted with 190 for, 5 abstentions and 0 against.

Final text of article as adopted: “The Commission for Good Governance and the Fight Against Corruption shall contribute to policies of good governance, preventing and fighting corruption and monitoring their implementation and dissemination of their culture, and strengthens the principles of transparency, integrity and accountability.

The Commission shall be in charge of monitoring cases of corruption within the public and private sectors, investigating them, confirming them and submitting them to the competent authorities.
The Commission shall be consulted on draft laws related to its mandate.
The Commission shall have the right to give its opinion on general regulatory texts related to its mandate.
The Commission shall be composed of independent impartial members possessing competence and integrity, who undertake their functions for one six-year term. One third of its members shall be renewed every two years.”

 

 

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